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Bank of America student loan alternatives

This student loan giant may be out of the game, but there are lots of other options.

Unfortunately you can’t get a student loan from Bank of America. In fact, it hasn’t offered student loans since 2015. But, you can still apply for a private student loan or student loan refinancing from other banks and online lenders.

5 alternatives to Bank of America student loans

While most big banks have phased out private student loans, these online providers offer a viable alternative to Bank of America.

  • If you want a private student loan: CommonBond
  • If you want to refinancing: Earnest
  • If you want to start building your career: SoFi
  • If you’re a healthcare student or professional: Laurel Road
  • If you get good grades: Discover

For private student loans

CommonBond Private Student Loans

Get started
on CommonBond's secure site
CommonBond is an online lender that offers undergraduate and graduate student loans. These come with the same rates — in a market where many lenders charge more for graduate students. It also offers a hybrid rate that allows you to take advantage of the low variable rates available now, before switching over to a fixed rate when the economy rebounds from COVID-19 and interest rises. But where most lenders offer terms as long as 20 years, CommonBond maxes out at 15 years on most loans — and the hybrid rate only comes with a 10-year term.
Pros
  • Same rates for graduate and undergrad students
  • Hybrid rates
  • Cosigner release
Cons
  • Slightly higher rates than competition
  • Higher rates for MBA, dental or medical school
  • Maximum term of 15 years
Minimum Loan Amount$5,000
Max. Loan Amount$500,000
APR3.31% to 9.74%
Interest Rate TypeFixed
Minimum Loan Term5 years
Maximum Loan Term15 years
RequirementsYou must be an American citizen or a permanent resident of the US and have good to excellent credit or a creditworthy cosigner. Education requirements: You must be enrolled at or graduated from an approved Title IV undergraduate, graduate or MBA program

For refinancing

Earnest Student Loan Refinancing

Get started
on Earnest's secure site
Earnest is an online lender that offers some of the lowest rates available if you want to refinance a student loan. It's one of the few lenders that allows you to refinance your loans while you're in your last semester. And you can skip one payment every year if you're current on your loan. It also offers Parent PLUS refinancing, which can be difficult to find. But Earnest doesn't accept cosigners for student loan refinancing.
Pros
  • Low rates compared to federal loans
  • Refinance before graduation
  • Parent PLUS refinancing
Cons
  • No cosigners on refinancing
  • Doesn't accept nonresidents
  • Variable rates not available in all states
Minimum Loan Amount$5,000
Max. Loan Amount$500,000
APR1.99% to 5.64% APR with autopay
Interest Rate TypeVariable
Fixed rate2.98% to 5.79% APR with autopay
Minimum Loan Term5 years
Maximum Loan Term20 years
Requirements650+ credit score, $5,000+ in student debt from a Title IV school, meet income and credit history requirements, live in an eligible state, US citizen or permanent resident, ages 18+

For building your career

SoFi Student Loans

Get started
on SoFi's secure site
SoFi offers more than just a student loan. A SoFi loan comes with access to perks like free financial advice, career coaching and networking opportunities. And while most student loan providers don't charge origination fees, SoFi doesn't charge any fees, ever. It's also one of the first online lenders to apply for a bank charter. Its fixed rates, while still low, can be slightly higher than what other providers offer. But variable rates will never get higher than 13.95% APR — most lenders cap variable rates at 18% APR.
Pros
  • Member perks
  • No fees
  • Low variable rate cap
Cons
  • Relatively high fixed rates
  • Maximum term of 15 years
  • Higher rates for graduate students
Minimum Loan Amount$5,000
Max. Loan AmountFull cost of attendance
APR1.87% to 11.66% with autopay
Interest Rate TypeVariable
Minimum Loan Term5 years
Maximum Loan Term15 years
Requirements650+ credit score, employed or receive income from other sources, enrolled at least half time at an eligible degree-granting program, use funds for qualifying higher education expenses, maintain satisfactory academic progress, US citizen, age of majority in your state — or bring on a cosigner who’s a US citizen to help you meet age, credit and income requirements

For healthcare students and professionals

Laurel Road In-School Loan

Laurel Road is the online lending platform for KeyBank. It offers graduate student loans to students enrolled in medicine, dentistry, nursing and physician assistant programs. It's one of the few providers to offer residency refinancing, which allows you to make lower payments during a residency or fellowship. While rates are a little higher than other private lenders, it offers flexibility tailored to your career path.
Pros
  • Specializes in healthcare
  • Residency refinancing
  • 0.25% discount after you get a job
Cons
  • Graduate loans for healthcare students only
  • No academic deferment for refinancing
  • $5,000 minimum loan amount
Minimum Loan Amount$5,000
APR4.29% to 8.55%
Interest Rate TypeFixed
Minimum Loan Term5 years
Maximum Loan Term20 years
RequirementsEnrolled at least half time in an eligible graduate program at an eligible school, borrow $5,000+, US citizen or permanent resident with a permanent 1-551 card

For students with good grades

Discover undergraduate student loans

Discover is an online bank that offers cash each semester back to students who maintain a 3.0 GPA. It also offers a wide range of hard-to-find loans, like medical residency relocation and bar exam loans. And it offers a wider range of payment assistance options than your average lender. But it doesn't offer cosigner release and there's no option to make interest-only repayments while you're in school, unlike most private lenders.
Pros
  • Cash back for good students
  • Bar exam loans
  • Residency relocation loans
Cons
  • No interest-only repayment in school
  • Maximum 15-year term for undergraduates
  • No cosigner release
Minimum Loan Amount$1,000
Max. Loan AmountCost of attendance
APRVariable APRs: 1.24% to 11.99%
Fixed APRs: 4.24% to 12.99%
Interest Rate TypeVariable
Fixed rate4.24% to 12.99%
Maximum Loan Term15 years
RequirementsMust be enrolled at least half-time at an eligible school with satisfactory academic progress and seeking a degree. Must be a US citizen, permanent resident or international student.

Why doesn’t Bank of America offer student loans anymore?

Bank of America never formally announced why it shut down its private student loan program in 2008, but it came at the same time as two major changes:

  • The 2008 recession. The recession led to a credit crunch, meaning that there was less money to go around for student loans and less profits to be made.
  • Government-issued federal loans. Just before the recession, the government also started to move toward providing student loans itself, rather than through companies like Sallie Mae. The 2007 College Cost Reduction and Access Act cut government subsidies for private student loans, making them more expensive for banks to issue at competitive rates.

After ending its private loans program, Bank of America continued offering federal student loans until 2015. Bank of America is only one of several big banks to back out of the student lending game since 2008, along with JPMorgan Chase.

Which banks offer student loans?

You can often find private student loans at regional or community banks, though there are fewer options a year ago.

  • First Republic Bank stopped its regular refinancing program in 2020. But First Republic offers personal lines of credit that you can use to refinance a student loan at a low rate.
  • Citizens Bank offers student loans, parent loans and refinancing online. Some borrowers can get approved for a full degree program with one application.
  • PNC Bank offers both private student loans and student loan refinancing with discounts for military service members.
  • SoFi offers private student loans and refinancing. While it’s an online lender applied for a bank charter in 2020.

While bank loans often cost less, that’s not always the case when it comes to student loans. You’ll have more options if you look to credit unions, nonprofits or online lenders. That’s because even regional banks like SunTrust stopped offering student loans during the coronavirus outbreak.

Compare more student loan options

Name Product Min. Credit Score Loan amount
Purefy Student Loan Refinancing (Variable Rate)
620
$7,500 - $300,000
Refinance all types of student loans — including federal and parent PLUS loans.
Credible Student Loan Refinancing
Good to excellent credit
Starting at $5,000
Get prequalified offers from top student loan refinancing providers in one place.
SoFi Student Loan Refinancing Variable Rate (with Autopay)
650
Starting at $5,000
A leader in student loan refinancing, SoFi can help you refinance your loans and pay them off sooner.
Splash Financial Student Loan Refinancing
650
Starting at $7,500
Save on your student loans with this market-leading newcomer.
Education Loan Finance Student Loan Refinancing
680
Starting at $15,000
Lower your student debt costs with manageable payments, affordable rates and flexible terms.
Earnest Student Loan Refinancing
650
$5,000 - $500,000
Get a tailored interest rate and repayment plan with no hidden fees.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Does Bank of America offer any similar loans?

It does offer one option that your family can use to help pay for school if they own a home: a home equity line of credit (HELOC). This lets parents borrow up to the amount they own in their home. Since your home is collateral, they can often get low rates similar to what student loan providers might offer.

Come from a family that rents? You’re out of luck. Bank of America does not offer personal loans, which could have been another option. You can, however, sign up for a student credit card, which can help you build your credit history and qualify for competitive student loan refinancing rates — if you use it responsibly.

Bank of America resources for college students

Bank of America might not offer student loans. But you can still take advantage of other products and programs while you’re in school or planning for college.

  • Student Leaders program. Each year, BofA sends 300 high school juniors and seniors to participate in an eight-week internship program at a nonprofit in Washington D.C. to jumpstart your career.
  • Checking accounts. BofA offers student checking accounts account has no monthly fees for eligible students and no overdraft to keep you from overspending.
  • Student credit cards. BofA offers several credit cards for students to help build your credit history before you graduate, with rewards for travel or every day purchases.
  • Savings accounts. Students under 24 can qualify for a fee waiver on a BofA savings account as long as you’re enrolled in a program.

Bottom line

Just because Bank of America’s student loan programs are no more doesn’t mean you’re out of options. You might want to go with one of our top three picks for lenders. Or, you can stick with your favorite bank and have your family take out a HELOC to pay for school.

Check out our student loans guide before you decide on a loan. You’ll find even more lenders you might qualify for and get a breakdown of how student loans work.

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